1547 1997

450th Anniversary of the First Lithuanian Book by Martynas Mažvydas




Domas KaunasWhat was 1997 to Lithuania? We will give various answers: we will mention events and names, achievements and failures; we will rejoice, or we will grieve over what we have left undone; we will doubt whether some of our efforts were meaningful. However, the passage of time will very quickly put things in order, purified of empty glitter and noise. I do not doubt that once everything false and ephemeral had faded away, the most striking and important record in the chronicle of those days will be THE YEAR OF THE LITHUANIAN BOOK. It certainly gave a great deal to Lithuania and to each of us. Most importantly, we became convinced that the first Lithuanian book and its author, Martynas Mažvydas, are still every bit as necessary, at the threshold of the third millennium, as they were 450 years ago. They speak to Lithuania and about her, exalt the Lithuanian word, urge us to make it abundant and to nourish our souls.

The Year of the Lithuanian Book was a year of creative work. It is no exaggeration to say that it was a year of solid achievements. We know what we accomplished; in addition, in one way or another the sharp-eyed news media immortalized the most important accomplishments, and diligent chroniclers of history recorded the stream of events with all their sights and sounds. Modern - electronic - media allowed us to invite friends of Lithuania from the most distant places to participate in this celebration, allowed us to confer with the world and to go out to it. The Internet journal The Year of the Lithuanian Book, engendered and fostered by this anniversary, performed its duties conscientiously. Inevitably it became an important witness and monument to an event whose scope is not easy to determine at this moment. It still has to live among us, serve and speak to us, and when necessary - give conscientious advice. That was perhaps the first incentive to carefully organize this treasury of accumulated knowledge, clothe it in the garb of a compact disk, and invite it to become what the faithful Lithuanian book has been to us for 450 years. We believe that the alliance between these two books - the one by Mažvydas and the modern one - will be harmonious, fruitful, and long-lasting. Let us make use of their generosity.

May we meet again at the 500th Anniversary of the Lithuanian Book!

Prof. Domas KAUNAS

Laimutis TelksnysYour computer is showing you the first computer multimedia book about the first Lithuanian book to be published - the CATECHISM written by Martynas Mažvydas, a theology student at the University of Königsberg, and printed at Hans Weinreich Printing House in Königsberg in 1547.

The first Lithuanian book to be published is not only a catechism but also the first Lithuanian primer. It contains the first original versified text in Lithuanian and the first Lithuanian hymnal.

See what this book looked like and what the Lithuanian typeface was like. Listen to the sounds of the text, verses, and hymns. Get acquainted with old and modern maps of Lithuania Minor and with its place names. Learn about the events related to the prohibition of the press.
This computer multimedia book contains artistic works devoted to this 450th jubilee - pictures and descriptions of anniversary medals, coins, and stamps. Here, you will find information about theatrical productions and will be able to listen to poetry and music as well as see exhibitions of books, graphics, photographs, bookplates, and drawings by schoolchildren, read about them, and get acquainted with the authors of the works exhibited, Mažvydas grant-holders, and prize winners. You will admire Martynas Mažvydas Peak in Tien Shan and see monuments to him.
Here, you will find information from all over the world about jubilee events and their coverage in the mass media. You will have the opportunity to get acquainted with a bibliography, documents, and a chronicle of events.
All Lithuanian texts are translated into English and German.
           So, you are welcome to read, look, and listen.

Prof. Laimutis TELKSNYS

16 November, 1998

Foreword to the first Internet version of the YEAR OF THE LITHUANIAN BOOK by Editor-in-Chief  Prof. Domas Kaunas (1997)
Dear Internaut. A Foreword to the first Internet version of the YEAR OF THE LITHUANIAN BOOK by Associate Editor Prof. L. Telksnys (1997)